Professor Henry FraserArchitecural Historian / Heritage Consultant
Chairman, Sentinel Committee, Barbados National Trust
Writer, TV Presenter, National Orator & Motivational Speaker
Professor Emertius, Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology.
Immediate Past Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences.
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.


Article Index

THINGS THAT MATTER: Of Cabbage And Kings

Henry S. Fraser

Of Cabbages and Kings

Professor Fraser is retired Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI Cave Hill, Past President of the Barbados National Trust and Chairman of the Task Force for the nomination of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison as a World Heritage site.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--“

(From The Walrus and The Carpenter, in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, by Lewis Carroll, 1872)

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Why do people write? Some write for money and some for pleasure. Some to simply communicate, some to persuade or help, and some to inspire.
Advocate columnist and historian Nigel Wallace, in his evocative column last Saturday, touched many cords, describing his emotions on finding a treasure trove of hand written letters from adolescence. Many people today have lost the art of writing, by texting in code: “C U sat”, and are impossibly challenged to write an acceptable letter, essay or report. The art of writing is dying and notepaper and envelopes are history for many!

The English author Kingsley Amis said: “If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing,” and that certainly seems to be the goal of one or two local columnists! Writing stories or novels, of course, is a different kettle of fish to writing for a newspaper. Alfred Hitchcock surely got it right when he said: “Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.” But the newspaper columnist has to grab the attention, in a few seconds, of the poor reader who’s drowning in a sea of newsprint and photos, is probably in a rush to get through the door for work, or distracted by the ghastly music on the radio of a teenage son, if he or she wants to persuade or inspire, challenge or even annoy!

In five years writing 250 columns of “Common Sense and Evidence” in the other Sunday paper, I must have annoyed one or two people, who woke me up at six to tell me so! So why another column? Don’t I treasure my sleep?

The answer’s above, in the first paragraph: for money, for pleasure, to communicate, and hopefully to persuade, help or inspire; all of the above! It wasn’t hard to find a weekly topic on themes of health and the environment, the subjects of most of my CSE columns, but as we get older and life more precious, we value even more things that often go unnoticed and unsung. These are the “things that matter”. I was raised on the brilliant columns of Ian Gale in the Barbados Advocate of the 1950s ... “Cabbages and Kings” ... and the things that matter can most certainly range from the ridiculous to the sublime!

So as long as the Grand Old Lady of Fontabelle will allow me, check this column for things that matter. My top seven “Things that matter” are Love – of God, spouse, family and friends; Honour, Truth, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Service and Laughter. But what about Ageing, Architecture, Art, Beaches, Beauty, Books (and more books), Buildings, Chocolate (dark, especially), Churches, Climate change, Commitment, Common sense, Community, Compassion, Courage, Culture, Death, Driving, Education, Environment, Enthusiasm, Exercise, Faith, Family, Fidelity, Fitness, Gardens, Grace, Grammar, Gyms, Happiness, Healing, Health – physical and mental, Health care, Heritage and heritage sites (including Sam Lord’s vandalised castle), Heroes, History, Home, Hope, Human values, Humility, Humour, Imagination, Language, Life-long learning, Listening – to others, to your conscience, to nature; Medicine, Mentors, Music, Pain, Painting, Patience, Patriotism, People, Pets, Prayer, Quackery, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Quiet, Reading, Red Wine, Relationships, Respect, Responsibility, Retirement, Risk taking, Safety, Sculpture, Seeing, Service (as opposed to Servitude), Sleep, Speaking, Spirituality, Sports, Swimming, Trees, Tolerance, Tourism (Heritage Tourism, Eco-Tourism and Medical Tourism), Traffic, UWI, Work, Worship, Writing and writers, and Youth?

And I’ll try to leave politics for the political pundits! Although politics in its original Greek sense is the responsibility of every citizen, our increasing “tribalisation” makes it dangerous ground for an apolitical professional writer to tread! Having served – apolitically - on multiple boards, commissions, committees and councils for every single government since coming home, I’m only too well aware of the potential for misinterpretation of a casual phrase, often the result of an “out of context” quote! So we’ll stick to principles rather than politics! To things that really matter! And we’ll be ever mindful of Ecclesiastes 5.2 ... “Let thy words be few”!

Henry Fraser Historic Houses Of Barbados Book CoverHistoric Houses of Barbados
Written by Henry Fraser & Ronnie Huges.
Available at all book leading book stores in Barbados.

Henry Fraser Treasures Of Barbados Book CoverTreasures of Barbados
Written by Sir George Alleyne and edited by Henry Fraser.
Available at the UWI Bookshop the publishers.

Henry Fraser Chattle House Book CoverBarbados Chattel Houses
Written by Henry Fraser and Bob Kiss.
Available at all leading book stores.

Henry Fraser A-Z Barbados Book CoverA-Z of Barbados Heritage
Written by Sean Carrington, Henry Fraser, John Gilmore and Addington Forde.
Available at Days Bookstore Barbados and

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